Some thoughts about Prophetic Ministry

Consider Jeremiah 1:5: “I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Now consider Ezekiel 2:3: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites.”

Jeremiah was called to the nations; Ezekiel was called to the people of God. It seems that those who are called to prophetic ministry, are called TO a people, to a community.

There are a few, but there aren’t very many Jeremiahs in our day and age, people that are called to speak for God to many nations. Frankly, I’ve run into more people who think they’re called to the nations than those who are walking out that calling. Darned few prophets start with national or international ministry; they start with neighborhoods, families, home groups.

Most prophetic folks are called to a community, a region, perhaps a congregation. My own calling (if you didn’t figure it out from the name) is to the Pacific Northwest region, and within that, to the people of God, to Christians in that region, and I can be more specific than that.

I know of a man who is a prophet to children: once they’ve hit their 14th birthday, he’s got nothing for them. I know someone who is primarily a prophet to one man, a young apostle, just getting his feet wet in apostolic ministry. I know another who prophesies over the homes in his neighborhood, in the dark while everybody’s asleep. I know an awful lot of prophetic people called to one home church, one congregation, one community of homeless people.

(This isn’t exclusive to prophets. Apostles are called TO a people as well; see Galatians 2:8.)

In my opinion, this is one of the main reasons that so many prophets are not welcome in the place they’re speaking: they’re speaking in a place that they’re not called to.

Prophetic folks can also be rejected for carrying a message different than the one for which they’re called and gifted to carry. New Testament prophets are to be primarily characterized by two verses: Ephesians 4:12 and 1 Corinthians 14:3:

·         Prophets are an equipping ministry. Note that not everyone called to prophetic ministry is called as a prophet, and therefore not called to an equipping ministry. (Hint: if your ministry is not about equipping saints, then you’re not functioning as a prophet.)

·         People who prophesy under the New Covenant are to be characterized by speaking things that strengthen folks, encourage folks, and comfort folks. There are some exceptions, but not as many as we think. (Hint: if your ministry is more about exposing sin or doctrinal fault than encouragement, then you’re ministering either out of the wrong covenant, or from the wrong spirit.)

There is a reason that our message is called “the gospel of the Kingdom”:

1)      “Gospel” means “good news.” If our news isn’t good, then our message is not, by definition, the gospel. Don’t argue with me; talk to the dictionary and see if you can persuade it.

2)      “Of the Kingdom” of course means that our message is about the Kingdom of God. If our “good news” is about salvation, then that’s a good thing, but that’s a thing that men made up, which they call “the gospel of salvation,” a completely unscriptural term. If our good news is about membership in an organization or about a moral code, those are also good things, but they are not the gospel of the Kingdom. Jesus’ message (Matthew 4:17) was about the Kingdom (and how people need to change their thinking in order to partake). Ours probably should be, too.

If we’re called to speak for the King, then we need to speak for the king, not for someone else, and we need to speak to the one the King sends us to, not to whoever will listen.

That is, if we want to be effective, when we speak for our King.

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